This extraordinary surname is recorded in the spellings Bompas, Bumpus, Bumpas, Bumpast, etc. In fact whatever way it could conceivably be spelt it has been at some point in history. This is perhaps not surprising as it is a French nickname, or at least a nickname derived from a French phrase. The phrase is or was 'bon pas' which translates literally as 'fast pace' and may therefore have been a metonymic for a fast runner or more likely, a messenger of some description. The first recording below certainly refers to a 'fast mover', but it is arguable whether or not it was a hereditary surname, but more just a description.We shall never know. What is clear is that by the 16th century the name was well recorded and examples taken from the early registers include the following examples. Jane Bumpasse who married Francis Marlyn at St Giles Cripplegate in 1611, John Lloyd and Anne Bompasse who obtained a marriage licence in London in 1616, and James Bumpas, christened at St James Church, Clerkenwell, London in 1670. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of William Bonpas, which was dated 1175, in the pipe rolls of the county of Gloucester, during the reign of King Henry 11, known as 'The church builder', 1154 - 1189. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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